Electrical Safety

Prevent Common Electrical Pitfalls that Hurt Workers and Result in OSHA Citations

There are three types of companies with regard to electrical safety: those that don’t know, those that are intimidated by the sheer magnitude of electrical compliance (or don’t care), and those that have done something. The reality is that electrical safety requires constant improvement. It is a journey where the traveler never arrives. The easiest way to start such a journey is with a single step. This short write-up provides the first step toward electrical safety.

ReggieLavoie / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines and citations easily run in excess of $250,000 when electrical injuries occur. There are companies enrolled in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPPs) that incurred fines worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars postaccident. These five simple steps would have prevented those fines.

1. Training

Avoid training everyone on everything related to electrical safety. An operator does not need to know how to repair a panel. Also, you don’t want to miss training a journeymen electrician on the proper use, care, storage, and inspection of electrically insulated tools. OSHA requires that the employer provides training in line with the hazard. See typical class outlines for various types of qualifications at https://www.e-hazard.com/arc-flash-training/.

2. Demonstrating Qualification

Qualified electrical workers are required to perform electrical work. OSHA will fine employers if they have not documented the workers’ demonstration of skills. Refer to OSHA 1910.332(b)(3) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E®–2018 Article 110.2(A)(1).

3. Written Electrical Safety Program (ESP)

This is considered the most important in terms of integration into an overall safety management system. The program serves to guide electrical workers and keep management focussed on the key areas that should be managed diligently. This document specifies the type and frequency of electrical safety training, safe work practices, live working, creating electrically safe work conditions, personal protective equipment (PPE) for arc flash and electrical shock, electrical task and skills auditing, and finally electrical incident investigations. OSHA has required an ESP since 1991. See NFPA 70®–2018 Article 110.1 and read up on a sustainable ESP at https://www.e-hazard.com/arc-flash-resources/electrical-safety-cycle/electrical-safety-program.php.

4. Job Planning

The NFPA 70®–2018 now requires that the job plan be documented. It is important that employers make both the job planning and the job briefing easy on workers. There are several simple programs that use checklists and simple electrical risk matrices to implement electrical risk control.

5. Risk Assessment

The electrical safety risk assessment focusses primarily on controlling the arc flash and shock hazards. An arc flash engineering study is by far the simplest approach to managing whether arc-rated PPE or shock PPE is required, providing the arc flash boundary, and the nominal system voltage. See NFPA 70E®–2018 Article 130.5(G) and read more at https://www.e-hazard.com/arc-flash-resources/electrical-safety-cycle/risk-assessment.php.

In summary, these five steps can easily be implemented within 2 months at a cost of around a tenth of the OSHA citations and penalties if these are absent. These five items sure provide the best return on investment for those new to electrical safety.

Zarheer JoomaJoin Zarheer Jooma, electrical engineer from E-Hazard, on February 21, 2018, for his live webinar Electrical Safety Hazard Reduction: How to Zap Common Mistakes that Cause Crippling Injuries, Facility Damage, and OSHA Fines. He will introduce concepts that should be in place before OSHA visits your site, focusing on safe work practices as required by OSHA.

You’ll learn:

  • How to determine electrically qualified persons;
  • OSHA and NFPA 70E–2018 training requirements;
  • Makeup of the written electrical safety program and auditing procedures;
  • Job planning and job briefing procedures; and
  • How arc flash risk assessment and electrical shock risk assessments are conducted.

Register today!